Thursday, January 5, 2017


Submitted by: Doris Parker

Major report on Russian hacking to go public

WASHINGTON — The U.S. intelligence community will release a public report next week detailing Russia's attempt to use cyberattacks to influence the U.S. presidential election, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Senate panel Thursday.

Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee that a comprehensive report ordered by President Obama on Russian hacking will be ready next week, including an unclassified version that the public will be able to review. He said lawmakers will receive closed-door briefings on the classified portions of the report.
"Until then, I'm not really prepared to discuss this beyond our earlier statements," Clapper testified. The intelligence community has said that Russia hacked political party committees during the election in an attempt to influence the outcome of the election. The CIA and FBI have agreed that the interference was aimed at helping President-elect Donald Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
"There is actually more than one motive," Clapper testified. "That will be detailed in the report."
Clapper said the Russian interference "did not change any vote tallies or anything of that sort." He said there is no way for the intelligence community to gauge the impact of the hacking and the subsequent leak of information from Clinton's campaign on how Americans voted.
Clapper said he intends to "push the envelope" to include as much information as possible in the public version of the report.
"I think the public should know as much as possible about this," he said.
Clapper, responding to questions from Democratic senators about Trump's criticism of the intelligence community, said he has no problem with people having a healthy skepticism about information from the intelligence community, which he said is "not perfect" since it is made up of human beings.
However, Clapper added that "I think there is a difference between skepticism and disparagement."
"I do think that public trust and confidence in the intelligence community is crucial," he said. Clapper added that he has received many "expressions of concern" by U.S. allies "about what has been interpreted as disparagement of the Intelligence Community."
Trump has resolutely dismissed the intelligence community's claims about the Russians' involvement in the election. He is scheduled to be briefed Friday on the upcoming report on Russian hacking.
"The 'intelligence' briefing on so-called 'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!" the president-elect tweeted Tuesday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., reflecting the concern among some Republican lawmakers about Trump's rift with the intelligence community he will soon lead, said it's appropriate for Trump to challenge officials but not to undermine them.
"I think they need to be uplifted, not undermined," Graham said. "They're the best among us and they're trying to protect us.'
Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., warned Thursday that the U.S. must increase the punishment for cyber attacks by foreign nations.
"There is no escaping the fact that this committee meets today for the first time in this new Congress in the aftermath of an unprecedented attack on our democracy," he said.
"The goal of this review, as I understand it, is not to question the outcome of the presidential election," McCain said. "Nor should it be. As both President Obama and President-elect Trump have said, our nation must move forward. But we must do so with full knowledge of the facts. I trust Director Clapper will brief the Congress on his review when it is completed. This is not the time or place to preview its findings."
McCain said that the U.S. is too vulnerable to cyberattacks by foreign adversaries.
“What seems clear is that our adversaries have reached a common conclusion: that the reward for attacking America in cyberspace outweighs the risk," McCain said. "For years, cyberattacks on our nation have been met with indecision and inaction. Our nation has had no policy, and thus no strategy, for cyber deterrence. This appearance of weakness has been provocative to our adversaries, who have attacked us again and again, with growing severity. Unless we demonstrate that the costs of attacking the United States outweigh the perceived benefits, these cyber threats will only grow."
The U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russian hacked Democratic email accounts and then provided the information to Wikileaks through a third party led Obama to order sanctions against Russia last week, including the expulsion of 35 Russian “intelligence operatives" from the U.S.
Russia has denied any involvement in the hacking, accusing the Obama administration of attempting to disrupt U.S.-Russian relations. Wikileaks founder Julian Julian Assange has denied the information came from Russia, telling Fox News a "14-year-old" could have hacked into former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails. Clapper, responding to a question from McCain, said Thursday that he does not view Assange as a credible source.
"I don't think those of us in the Intelligence Community have a whole lot of respect for him," Clapper said of Assange.
Clapper, who will retire next week when Trump is sworn in as president, also urged Congress to weigh in on Trump's reported plans to revamp the CIA and reduce the size of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 
"There's always room for improvement," Clapper said in response to a question from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. But he said Congress should "get a vote" about what happens to the intelligence community since the agencies perform their duties based on laws passed by the House and Senate.
He also said that Congress should continue its strong oversight of intelligence agencies to make sure they are operating legally and are not violating Americans' civil liberties. But he said lawmakers have sometimes gone too far.
"At the risk of delving into a sensitive area, there is a difference between oversight and micromanagement," he said.
Contributing: John Bacon

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